Deerbolt Prison

Deerbolt is a prison and young offender institution near Barnard Castle, County Durham for men aged 18 to 24.

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Book and plan your visit to Deerbolt

Now that regular COVID testing of people in the wider community has ended, you are no longer required to take a COVID test before coming to see someone for a visit, although we would still encourage you to do so.

We will continue to run social visits whilst it is safe to do so.

Visiting rules may change if there is an outbreak within the prison, this may include bringing back testing before visits for a short time to protect you, the person you are visiting and staff.

If you are unable to visit someone in prison you can still keep in touch.

You can also contact the Prisoners’ Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003. You will not be able to book a visit using this number.

To visit someone in Deerbolt you must:

  • be on that person’s visitor list
  • have a visiting order
  • book your visit at least 2 days in advance
  • have the required ID with you when you go

There is a maximum of 3 visitors in total, of which one must be 18 or older. Only one social visit can occur per calendar month at present.

The number of visits a person can have depends on the ‘privilege’ level he’s on, but at least 4 a month.

Contact Deerbolt if you have any questions about visiting.

Help with the cost of your visit

If you get certain benefits or have an NHS health certificate, you might be able to get help with the costs of your visit, including:

  • travel to Deerbolt
  • somewhere to stay overnight
  • meals

Application forms are available in the visitor centre.

How to book family and friends visits

Deerbolt is running a limited visits schedule. Visits are also happening differently than normal, observing strict guidelines, which must be followed.

You can book your visit by telephone. There is no online booking service available.

Booking line: 01833 633 349
The booking line is open, Monday to Friday, 9am to midday
Find out about call charges

Visiting times:

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 1:45pm to 4:05pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 1:45pm to 4:05pm

You will be given a full hour once in the visits hall.

There are currently no formal legal visit sessions. For enquiries or booking a session, contact

Getting to Deerbolt

Find Deerbolt on a map

The closest mainline railway station is Darlington, around 20 miles away. You will need to take a taxi from the station to the prison, or a bus from Darlington bus station to Barnard Castle.

To plan your journey by public transport use:

There is car parking available at the prison, with some Blue Badge spaces.

Entering Deerbolt

All visitors, aged 16 or older must prove their identity before entering the prison. Read the list of acceptable forms of ID when visiting a prison.

All visitors will need to be given a pat-down search, including children. You may also be sniffed by security dogs.

Deerbolt has a strict dress code policy, which means visitors should wear smart clothes (no vests, no low-cut tops, no shorts, no short dresses, no see-through clothing, no offensive slogans and no headwear, other than that worn for religious reasons).

There will be no refreshments available during your visit.

There are strict controls on what you can take into Deerbolt. You will have to leave most of the things you have with you in a locker or with security. This includes pushchairs and car seats.

You will be told the rules by an officer at the start of your visit. If you break the rules, your visit could be cancelled and you could be banned from visiting again.

Visiting facilities

The visitors and family support centre run by Nepacs is currently closed in line with coronavirus restrictions. The tea bars and children’s play areas are also not available to use.

Family days

Deerbolt is not running any family days.

Keep in touch with someone at Deerbolt

There are several ways you can keep in touch with someone during their time at Deerbolt.

Secure video calls

Secure video calling is available at this prison. Family and friends will need to download the Prison Video app, create an account, register all visitors and add the prisoner to their contact list.

Read more about how it works

Phone calls

Prisoners do not have phones in their rooms so they will always have to call you. They have to buy phone credits to do this. They usually call in the evenings during the week and in the daytime at weekends.

They can phone anyone named on their list of friends and family. This list is checked by security when they first arrive so it may take a few days before they are able to call.

Officers may listen to phone calls as a way of preventing crime and helping keep people safe.


You can send emails to someone in Deerbolt using the Email a Prisoner service.

You might also be able to attach photos that will be printed out.


You can write at any time.

Include the person’s name and prisoner number on the envelope.

If you do not know their prisoner number, contact Deerbolt.

All post, apart from legal letters, will be opened and checked by officers.

Send money and gifts

You can use the free and fast online service to send money to someone in prison.

You can no longer send money by bank transfer, cheque, postal order or send cash by post.

If you cannot use the online service, you may be able to apply for an exemption - for example if you:

  • are unable to use a computer, a smart phone or the internet
  • do not have a debit card

This will allow you to send money by post.

Gifts and parcels

You cannot hand over items during a visit. You may leave books with staff in the visitors centre, who will check them and pass them on to the prisoner.

You can only send in underwear, socks and books. No other items are allowed. The parcel must be clearly labelled with what’s inside.

Make sure to include the person’s name and prisoner number on the parcel.

All parcels will be opened and checked by officers.

People in Deerbolt are given a list of approved items that they can buy from a catalogue.

Friends and families of prisoners are permitted to send books directly to their loved ones, or can order books from approved retailers, which can source and send the books on to prisoners.

For the full list of approved retailers, you can read the HMPPS Incentives Policy, Annex F.

Life at Deerbolt

Deerbolt is committed to providing a safe and educational environment where men can learn new skills to help them on release.

Security and safeguarding

Every person at Deerbolt has a right to feel safe. The staff are responsible for their safeguarding and welfare at all times.

For further information about what to do when you are worried or concerned about someone in prison visit the Prisoners’ Families helpline website.

All safeguarding processes are overseen by County Durham Safeguarding Adults Inter-Agency Partnership.

Arrival and first night

When someone first arrives at Deerbolt, they will be able to contact a family member by phone. This could be quite late in the evening, depending on the time they arrive.

They will be able to have a shower and speak to someone who will check how they’re feeling and ask about any immediate health and wellbeing needs.


Each person who arrives at Deerbolt will at first be located in the induction unit (I wing). Everyone will get:

  • a 2nd class letter to write home
  • an information booklet
  • an information booklet for their family and friends
  • the canteen price list, from which they will be able to order items

Prisoners get an induction that lasts about 3 days or longer, if needed. They will meet professionals who will help them with:

  • health and wellbeing, including mental and sexual health
  • any substance misuse issues, including drugs and alcohol
  • personal development in custody and on release, including skills, education and training
  • other support (sometimes called ‘interventions’), such as managing difficult emotions

Everyone also finds out about the rules, fire safety, and how things like calls and visits work.


Around 500 young men live at Deerbolt mostly in single rooms. There are 10 wings, including K wing which is a small unit holding 16 men.

There is a gym, astroturf pitch and sports field.

There is also a health centre and multi-faith chaplaincy team.

Education and work

Deerbolt’s education department is run by NOVUS and offers both full-time and part-time courses in a variety of subjects.

Students have the opportunity to improve their basic skills, learn new skills and gain qualifications, to help them gain future employment.

Education courses include:

  • literacy and numeracy
  • IT
  • health and safety
  • Football Association refereeing
  • food hygiene
  • parenting
  • employability

Vocational training courses and work opportunities include:

  • painting and decorating
  • joinery
  • recycling
  • gardening
  • catering
  • laundry
  • printing and design
  • waste management
  • multi-skills
  • bike repairs
  • interior fittings

Other activities available are:

  • distance learning
  • peer tutoring, including literacy
  • working in the education department and library

Career advice is offered by Changing Lives and reading support from the Shannon Trust.

Deerbolt offers accredited offending behaviour courses along with other psychological services.

Deerbolt works with partners such as Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service to help prisoners work towards finding employment or related training after release.

Accommodation and financial advice is provided by Shelter. Advisers will also try to link prisoners with community-based agencies to help ensure that support continues after release.

Temporary release

Prisoners are not usually released on temporary licence, but the opportunity to move to a prison that offers release on temporary licence (ROTL) is available.

Organisations Deerbolt works with

NEPACS supports anybody affected by imprisonment in the north east. Deerbolt also works with Darlington County Council and Greggs Foundation.

Support for family and friends

Find out about advice and helplines for family and friends.

Support at Deerbolt

The visitors centre at Deerbolt is run by Nepacs who can offer help and support.

Contact Nepacs on: 01833 633 272
Find out about call charges

Problems and complaints

If you have a problem email:

HM Prison and Probation Service publishes action plans for Deerbolt in response to independent inspections.

Contact Deerbolt

Governor: Andrew Hudson

Telephone (24 hours): 01833 633 200
Fax: 01833 633 201
Find out about call charges

Follow Deerbolt on Twitter


HMP/YOI Deerbolt
Bowes Road
Barnard Castle
County Durham
DL12 9BG

See map

Safer custody hotline

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a man in Deerbolt, call the safer custody hotline. Leave your name, telephone number, the prisoners name and a short message. This line is regularly checked and someone will call you back.

Telephone: 01833 633 212
Find out about call charges

In an emergency, contact the switchboard.

Help us to improve this page. Give us your feedback in this 2-minute survey.

Published 24 March 2020
Last updated 1 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated visiting guidance based on 1 April COVID rule changes

  2. Added link to new safer custody information under Security and safeguarding.

  3. Updated visiting information: Reduced visit schedule and testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  4. Updated visiting information: Testing for visitors aged 12 and over.

  5. Updated physical contact guidance

  6. New visiting times and booking information added.

  7. Prison moved into National Stage 3 framework and is now preparing to open visits for family, friends and significant others. We will update this page with specific visiting information as soon as possible.

  8. Updated visit info

  9. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  10. Updated visiting information in line with new local restriction tiers.

  11. Updated visiting information in line with new national restrictions in England.

  12. Updated information about visiting facilities and family days. Added information about how to book video calls with residents.

  13. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  14. Updated visiting information in line with coronavirus restrictions.

  15. Updated information to include confirmation of secure video calls being available at this prison.

  16. added survey link

  17. Visit information update

  18. First published.